Fear in which I touched upon Struwwelpeter, the deliciously creepy series of German cautionary tales for children. These fearful (pretty) stories with vile (funny) pictures meant to instruct good little folks are fairly freaky.
I blame my German heritage for the fact that I also find them entrancing. No matter how hard I push against my intrigue with darker subject matter I continue to peek through my fingers for a glimpse.
The latest glimpse comes courtesy of author Adam Gidwitz who weaves his tale of Hansel and Gretel into the original fairy tales by The Brothers Grimm. The brother-sister team of Hansel and Gretel do more than defend themselves from witches in tasty houses. They outsmart and outwit crafty warlocks, well-meaning parents, frightful dragons and even the devil himself!
It is hard to stay away from tales this delicious so you can imagine that when Adam visited our school I found my way to the reading. I was early so had an opportunity to speak with Adam before the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students arrived. He signed my book ("To Gary, A Grimm fan and a great guy - awesome to meet you!"), posed for a picture and answered all of my exuberant questions with a friendly charm.
As classes began to arrive I took a seat on the floor and settled in to listen to a excerpt from Faithful Johannes. Adam is a storyteller. It became immediately evident that his years as a teacher (he still teaches - bravo!) have prepared him well for stepping before an audience of children and holding their attention.
He also described the origins of the stories and how he came to write this book. Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the question/answer session following the reading but everyone told me afterwards how "interesting", "funny", "great" and "entertaining" he was.
The same adjectives can be used to describe the book. It looks like the golden apple didn't fall far from the tree.